The popular trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow to the Highlands, Aberdeen and Inverness have a good quota of bike spaces, but you’ll need to book them in advance. The same applies to the famous Caledonian Sleeper; most sleepers have six spaces, but some only three. It’s easier in central Scotland, where the commuter trains don’t have dedicated bike spaces; just leave your bike in the vestibules.
Bike spaces on trains between Inverness and Wick/Thurso are often booked up months in advance by Land’s End to John O’Groats cyclists, and many LEJoG riders find it impossible to get a space. If you’re riding to John O’Groats, consider shipping your bike back separately. The Spot bike shop in Wick will do this for you (01955 602698, firstname.lastname@example.org), as will John O’Groats Bike Transport.
One nice touch on ScotRail is Cycle Rescue, a free call-out service for cyclists if you have a breakdown or accident on a train-enabled ride. Call 08000 717212 and have your ticket to hand!
And better still: dedicated bike carriages are being introduced on the West Highland route, converted from old single-carriage trains. They’re not in service yet – definitely something to look forward to.
Official page on the ScotRail website.
Local trains in the North of England. Two spaces on every train, and no need to book. Conductors are encouraged to use their discretion, particularly on busy lines like the Cumbrian Coast (which gets you to the start of the C2C), so you might be lucky even if there’s already two bikes on board – or more! The company meets with cyclists regularly to discuss provision, which we think is unique.
Official page on the Northern website.
Local trains around Liverpool. Bikes are fine at any time, though not recommended at peak times. Particularly useful for crossing the Mersey, as cycling is banned in the road tunnels.
Useful services across the North, connecting with many popular cycle routes. The number of spaces per train varies: TransPennine has a confusing array of different train designs. Booking is now required, though you may see people informally loading bikes into the vestibules for short hops in cities – don’t count on it for a longer journey.
Official page on the TransPennine Express website.